A new worker of Ford's is of exceptional quality. A relatively tricky casting-the new employee is a robot who has now become a permanent employee at the factory in Cologne.

Robbie, a robotic worker, has been integrated into the Cologne, Germany, workplace as a permanent workforce member. In this case, Robbie aids the actual people working in the factory, particularly those who are disabled or otherwise in need of a break from their duties. Consider the case of achy shoulders, wrists, or anywhere.

Robbie is what the industry calls a "cobot," short for "collaborative robot," because of its design to work in tandem with human beings.

"With Robbie, we show how many diverse functions people with functional impairments may undertake, as long as the organization provides good facilities for the individual employee." Robbie and other cobots have the potential to increase employment opportunities and improve workers' health and longevity on the job. Oliver Farber, who is in charge of the Cologne Powertrain Operations plant for Ford Europe, has said the same thing.

Dietmar Brauer, a German, has spent the past 30 years working on the production line at a German plant. He had worked hard all his life, but now he was having trouble with his shoulders and wrists and worried that it meant the end of his career.

"It's becoming harder and harder for me to do my work as time goes on. It's like having an additional arm, and a very powerful one, whenever the robot lends a hand. It has changed everything. I hope that many more people will be able to obtain the chance to continue doing the work we respect so much," says Dietmar Brauner.

Dietmar works alongside the robot Robbie to attach covers to the engines on the Cologne factory's assembly line today.

Ford's study project, in which Dietmar and the robot work together, shows that people with limited mobility or other abilities can still contribute to society without attracting too much attention.

Robbie The robot only moves when activated by Dietmar, and it also detects, with the help of sensors, if Dietmar's hands or fingers are in the way.

RWTH University helped the research project that won an award in Aachen and the public company Landschaftsverband Rheinland (LVR) (LVR).

"With cobots, we have established a unique work in our industry, based on our success here. We will deploy comparable solutions in other types of workplaces that are uniquely fitted to individuals with lower functional capacity. The prospects for collaboration between people and these robots are pretty good, "says Professor Mathias Hüsing, RWTH University.

Ford has already used collaborative robots to assist workers with various activities. Ford has already welcomed a so-called "dog robot" at Ford's plants.


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